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Clayface facts for kids

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Clayface (2013 RI Comic Con)
Clayface (2013 RI Comic Con)

Clayface is an alias used by several fictional supervillains appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Most of them possess clay-like bodies and shape-shifting abilities, and all of them have been depicted as adversaries of Batman.

In 2009, Clayface was ranked as IGN's 73rd Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.

Publication history

Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the original Clayface (Basil Karlo) was a B-list actor who began a life of crime using the identity of a villain he portrayed in a horror film.

In the late 1950s, Batman began facing a series of science fiction-inspired foes, including Matt Hagen, a treasure-hunter given vast shape-shifting powers and resiliency by radioactive protoplasm, who became the new Clayface. He retained the title for the next several decades of comic book history.

In the late 1970s, Preston Payne became the third Clayface. A scientist suffering from hyperpituitarism, Preston Payne used the second Clayface's blood to create a cure but instead became a clay-like creature that needed to pass his condition on to others to survive.

Sondra Fuller of Strike Force Kobra used the terrorist group's technology to become the fourth Clayface, also known as Lady Clay. She formed the Mud Pack with the original and third Clayfaces. During this era, the original Clayface used the DNA of Payne and Fuller to become the most powerful Clayface.

Sometime after the Mud Pack event, Payne and Fuller had a son dubbed "Cassius 'Clay' Payne", who also had metahuman clay powers.

In 1998, Dr. Peter Malloy later used the Cassus Payne's skin sample to become Clayface when he was introduced in Batman #550.

In 2002, the Todd Russell version of Clayface was introduced in Catwoman (vol. 3) #4 (May 2002).

In 2005, the Johnny Williams version of Clayface was introduced in Batman: Gotham Knights #60 (February 2005).

He was voiced by Ron Perlman in Batman: The Animated Series.

Powers and abilities

Preston Payne as Clayface III battles Batman. From Detective Comics #479.

Each of the Clayfaces has a different power with the exception of their shapeshifting ability.

  • In earlier appearances, Basil Karlo had no powers, but wore a clay mask based on one of his movie roles. In recent comics, Basil Karlo's body is made out of mud upon taking the DNA of Clayface III and Lady Clay, enabling him to gain the combined powers of both. In The New 52, these are improved to a level in which he can mimic the DNA of others.
  • Matt Hagen had temporary shape-shifting, and voice-shifting, and a body constituted by living mud which he can divide or change tone at will. Hagen had to re-immerse himself in a pool of protoplasm to recharge his powers every 48 hours or else he would regress back to his human form.
  • Preston Payne originally had shape-shifting powers, yet ended up gaining the ability to melt people with his touch. He has super-strength from his exo-skeleton anti-melting suit. Preston's shape-shifting ability was later restored by Prometheus.
  • Sondra Fuller has shape-shifting powers and power duplication.
  • Cassius "Clay" Payne has the powers of both his parents. If a piece of him is separated from his mass, it can develop some consciousness of its own and even "bond" with a human to transform them into a "Claything".
  • Dr. Peter Malley had the same powers as Cassius, but could also melt people just by looking at them.
  • Todd Russell had shape-shifting powers.
  • Johnny Williams had shape-shifting powers.

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